Archive for November, 2011

Northern lights at Håkøya

Last night skies cleared up just in time for a beautiful aurora show. We were getting a bit bored of taking photos from the same jetty every time ;) so we decided to drive to Håkøya, a small island (reachable by bridge) which is only a 25 minutes drive. Eelke and Roy decided to join us too :) The northern lights were bright and active in all directions when we just got there, and as a bonus they were also reflected in the fjord – beautiful!

Northern lights dancing over the bridge to Håkøya Aurora Borealis combined with Aurora Urbanis as Roy calls it... it's the city lights of Tromsø reflected on a cloud

Northern lights and Christmas trees :) The aliens in this photo are some reflections from the bright lights on the bridge

After a while they weakened, but we kept taking photos on the beach where they were reflected in all the pools of water. The tide was coming up fast though, if you weren’t careful suddenly your tripod was standing in the water :D

Northern lights reflected in the rock pools Northern lights seen from Håkøya - what a show!

We stayed out until 01:30, chatting and drinking hot chocolate. There wasn’t much activity anymore, so we decided to go home. Looks like we should have stayed a little longer, as a while later some red aurora showed up. Oh well, you can’t have everything and it’s also good to catch some sleep. I’m sure there’s more to come :)

Winter is here

Autumn has been unusually warm this year, with lots of rain. Last week temperatures finally dropped and we got almost 15 cm of snow. It only lasted a day though, then we were back to +8 degrees Celsius and rain. A few days later it got colder again, and we had a thin layer of snow followed by a weekend with beautiful crisp and cold weather. So nice! This afternoon we went for a walk around Prestvannet, the lake on top of Tromsø island. We were not alone, it seemed that half of Tromsø was hoping to take a last picture of the sun :D Officially, the sun stays below the horizon from the 27th of November, but it’s already hiding behind the mountains from the 22th. Tomorrow is going to be cloudy, so it’s very likely that this was the last glimpse of the sun for a while!

Tromsdalstinden and Prestvannet on a beautiful winter's day Frozen Prestvannet

Paul bought some skates and is keen to use them, so he measured the ice thickness. Not quite enough yet… unless you’re an otter ;)

The ice thickness... not quite enough to go skating! This otter crossed the entire lake and walked up to a group of people standing on a jetty... must have been a very nice photo opportunity!

And there it was, the sun! It was up for 3 hours today :)

Goodbye Sun! Frozen grass

You can tell that the children have been waiting for snow for a long time, they are all very keen to go skiing and sledding now, even if there is only just about enough snow for that. Building a snowman is also going to be a challenge, but here someone made 2 miniature ones… cute! :)

Two miniature snowmen, so cute!

Unfortunately it looks like the pattern is repeating itself, temperatures are rising tomorrow and on Tuesday we’re expecting +7 degrees and rain :( I hope the snow comes back soon! It makes the dark time a lot lighter by reflecting the little light that we do get.

Christmas-everything

I’m not sure when I saw the first Christmas items appearing in the shops, but it must have been sometime in October at the latest. What amuses me in Norway is that nearly every item can become special Christmas food. From Christmas-sausages to Christmas-crisps to Christmas-milk and Christmas-beer! Usually only the package changes, sometimes they add some extra cinnamon or other Christmas flavours ;)

These photos are not the best quality, they are taken with my iPod while trying to be invisible to the people working in the shop :P But I thought it gives a nice impression of Christmas food in Norway :D

Ok, this is quite normal: special Christmas chocolate collection, with a lot of marzipan Seigmen are winegums shaped like people, in this case men, but there is also a women version - they don't taste as good though!. They are perfect for special editions - at Easter they wear ski's, and at Christmas they wear Christmas hats :)

Christmas-potato salad and Christmas-beetroot salad. Christmas-sausage, but note that this one won't even last until Christmas!

Christmas-crisps. With (unspecified) spices. The Norwegians don't mind about that, they happily put pizza-meat as an ingredient of pizza (does it come from the pizza animal?) Christmas-herring

Christmas-milk. Santa often looks quite different here, not your typical Coca-cola-Santa ;) And of course Christmas-beer!

While I was taking a photo of the Christmas-beer, a couple approached me. They were tourists, and confused about the price of beer. They were wondering if 23 kroner (2.5 pounds/2.94 euros/4 dollars) was the price of one half-litre can of beer, or the whole six-pack… I felt a bit bad giving them the disappointing answer! Alcohol is so expensive here because it’s very heavily taxed. You can buy beer in the supermarket, but only until 20:00 (or 18:00 on Saturday), and for anything stronger you’ll have to visit the Vinmonopolet (literally Wine Monopoly) which is owned by the state. Welcome to Norway ;)

Oldervik

Three weeks ago we had one sunny day in the middle of a very rainy period. Of course we made the most of it, and we went on a trip to Oldervik (about an hour’s drive from Tromsø). We were greeted by a great view towards the Lyngen Alps, with snow on the tops…

The Lyngen Alps

The coast at Oldervik has very special rock formations. I had seen many beautiful photos taken there (here and here for example), but we had never been there ourselves! High time for a visit :) and it didn’t disappoint! Here are some examples of the rock formations…

Rock formations at Oldervik A small bridge crosses the rocks at Oldervik

There are interesting patterns everywhere, it’s a paradise for photographers :D

Rock patterns Rock patterns Rock patterns

Rock patterns Rock patterns

Another interesting phenomenon at Oldervik are several potholes (jettegryte in Norwegian). They are formed when rocks are moved around by the sea and form a kind of hole. They are very big! Paul is standing in one of them below…

Paul standing in a pothole Another pothole, this one filled with water Here I was about to jump over the pothole

And this one (below left) was even bigger! We couldn’t go in as there was too much water in it. The light had become quite difficult for photos, with a dark foreground and a very bright background, so I experimented with using different exposures to create one image (HDR).

HDR image of the large pothole Another view towards Lyngen

Paul brought his waterproof camera and took some photos in the tidal pools – very nice!

A tidal pool at Oldervik Underwater life

The sky had  very pretty pastel colours when we came back to the car.

A tree and the Lyngen Alps - winter is on its way Beautiful pastel colours!

On the way back, the light was still very beautiful, and I had to ask Paul to stop a few times, I just had to take some pictures!

A view on the way back to Tromsø The setting sun was colouring the snow pink

And our trip came to an end with this spectacular sunset…

Such a beautiful sunset! Perfect end to a perfect day :)

Once home we made pumpkin soup and we had friends over for dinner. A perfect Saturday!